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Author: Michael Ehline - Premises Claims

What Legal Theories Do Lawyers Use to Prove Night Club Bouncer Assault and Unsafe Building Hazards Cases?

Negligent Unshaven Security Guard - Bouncer

Gatherings at night clubs or bars are thought of as a way to have fun with a friend or group of friends. People do not expect to be hurt when visiting these types of establishments. In fact, they expect the bouncers to keep order and the building to be safe.

There are many legal theories lawyers use to prove a case like this. But first you need to understand some basics, so here we go.

Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.

Failing to provide adequate security doesn’t just mean hiring a guard. It also means guarding against dangerous conditions on your property.

For example:

  • Consuming alcohol diminishes your inhibitions, and this can lead to problems like tripping at a bar. 
  • Slipping and falling on liquid, a chair or table in a high traffic area of an eatery is a typical scenario we also see.  
  • But crimes and bouncer assaults are also a risk of harm to customers.

Type of harm suffered in negligence security cases includes:

  • Head trauma
  • Broken bones or sprains. 

These types of incidents happen due to a defect or failure by the property owner or management. So they fail to maintain the building securely and properly.

The other types of harm that can occur may include criminal conduct in the form of:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Rape, and in rare cases, death.

What is The Main Function of Security Guards?

Most bouncer attack lawyers will tell you that patrons of a nightclub or bar are normally not concerned with criminal dangers. After all, these establishments usually have security guards right? Yes, they are referred to as bouncers.

And their job is to protect you and the club, or bar, etc. If there is a scuffle, they must peacefully try to diffuse the situation.

  • Bouncers are usually large men with presence enough to keep patrons from misbehaving. (Read more here.)

So the bouncer is usually the employee who will have contact and cooperate with the police. These are situations where the police are involved in subduing crime or responding to a potential crime. But the bouncer is not usually a sworn peace officer.

He is expected to observe, report and refrain from using emotions. And this is no easy task when dealing with patrons who may behave badly.

Sometimes customers are out of line and want to test their mixed martial arts skills on the bouncer or another visitor. In other cases the security guard can step over the line of their intended functions.

So now, rather than controlling dangerous situations, the bouncer makes it worse. If so, liability attaches.

What Are Some Examples of Bouncer Assaults?

There have been reported incidences and arrests of violent bouncers. Most happened in situations where bouncers assaulted patrons of nightclubs or bars.

In that case, a video went viral on the internet. Sadly, the security guard/ bouncer was seen punching the patron and then robbing him in the bathroom of a strip club. The bouncer later said he believed the man was dealing drugs in the club.

The man required emergency surgery. The bouncer was arrested and charged with assault and endangerment.

  • In Lawton Kansas, a veteran was attacked by a bouncer in a night club, with the soldier being beaten to the point that his face was fractured.

He required facial reconstructive surgery after being injured by an improvised explosive device prior to that beating. Police suspected this bouncer of two similar assaults that occurred at the same club!

  • In Henderson Kentucky, a patron ended up dead after complaining about his drink.
  • Police observed a photo that was taken the same night as the altercation, where one of the security team can be seen holding a baton. (Read More Here.)

Police believed it was the same baton witnesses claim saw striking the man who had complained about his drink. The bouncer was arrested, charged with murder and released on $50,000 bail.

  • Bouncers harming a patron can be criminally charged. And the patron who was hurt may be able to bring a lawsuit against the bouncer and the night club or bar.
  • The bar or night club owner can be held liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent entrustment (examples include a road rage employee given a company vehicle), negligent hiring, negligent retention, and even dram shop. (depending on your jurisdiction.)
  • In the event of death, all defendants can face a wrongful death lawsuit.

What is Security Negligence?

When businesses fail to provide the needed security to their customers its said that they showed negligence towards security measures. A business that has the public coming within its premises has to provide security to its customers.

In other words, if it is within the knowledge of the business that crimes, or even a trip and fall can occur it becomes a responsibility for business to protect its patrons.

If a crime causes harm the patron or his personal property, the business will become held liable. What about when a gang banger shoots up a club or a disco? Well, if the owner knows it’s a possibility, it is a foreseeable crime.

In other words, was there a history, or knowledge that gang-bangers have caused trouble in the area? If so, liability attaches.

From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place.

Negligent security can occur when bouncers or owners and employees do not perform the functions they were hired for properly. So the result is a patron being harmed.

Below are some of the most common claims against establishments.

  • The security guard or bouncer failed to take action.
  • The patron was not protected from being harmed.
  • Knowledge of violence by the owner of crimes, or violent behavior of the bouncer can also be used when a bouncer attacks a patron.

What is Owner Premises Liability?

When a guest of a nightclub or bar is hurt, under the legal theory of premises liability. Premises liability in the state of California outlines that the owner of a property has a duty to provide reasonable safe conditions. And this duty includes preventing any foreseeable harm to any visitor to the business.

Negligent actions by the employees of a bar or nightclub owner in the performance of their duties can make them liable to you. But you must suffer harm. That is what gives rise to your money damages award.

  • For example, liability could exist because security had been alerted to a slippery spill, but it was not cleaned up quickly.
  • So now another patron has a slip and fall incident with serious injuries.
  • In that case, the owner could be held liable for negligent premises liability.

What is the Stance of Defense Counsel?

Attorneys for the defense will almost always argue they had no knowledge of any potential problem. They will come up with a litany of excuses to avoid paying for the injuries.

So victims at the bar, nightclub, or regular old corporate offices have to prove the case. We just discussed that courts will look for whether or not a duty is owed. The defense will argue that even if the duty was breached, it was not foreseeable.

So no liability lies even if someone was hurt from a crime. Plus, the mere fact a crime took place while you were hanging out matters not since it was not a PSI.

If those basic things are not present, the jury instructions will provide the framework to the trier of fact to find zero or partial liability.

Series 1000 – Premises Liability

What’s The Foreseeability Of Crime Test?

Whether the victim will win in a case where a third party committed a crime against you majorly depends on proving foreseeability of the crime.  Most of this test comes from case law. And as will be discussed, some courts have different thresholds and variations of this test in California.

But non the less, this is the threshold you must meet. If not, the court could dismiss your case with, or without prejudice to you re-filing the case.

So naturally, a true personal injury warrior will note that this is a very important element. This must become nailed down before you consider moving forward with your lawsuit. From foreseeability we mean that it was in the knowledge of the business (the runners of the business) that a crime can take place at or near the place.

What About the Businesses’ Knowledge of Prior Crimes or Accidents to Show Foreseeability?

In some cases, it’s implied that the business should have been aware of the fact that a crime or other dangers could happen on the premises.

Examples of non criminal events giving rise to landlord liability could be where could be:

  • Falling objects. For example, a ceiling fixture breaking loose from its anchors and falling on your head. 
  • Trash in a parking area. This type of rubbish can hide or block liquid and grease, causing a slip, trip and fall case.

But how do you show the owner knew or should have known about the criminal or civil dangers to guests. Well, one way is to show they knew the ceiling was collapsing, or the trash in the garage was a fall hazard. However, most of the time it is not that easy.  Most of the time we lawyers use the concept of constructive or implied knowledge.

  • Constructive knowledge is the term that indicates such knowledge. It is to become assessed in these cases what had been happening around the business in the past.

Any crime that took place in the past that gave an indication that a crime might take place is enough reason for a business to take security measures. 

How recently a crime had taken place in the vicinity of the business where the victim has suffered harm. This is also of importance in deciding the foreseeability of the crime.

The same test is used to prove prior knowledge a litany of other accidents like:

  • Falling objects
  • Drowning in a public or private pool
  • Slipping, tripping and falling on public or private sidewalks
  • Various burn injuries in your workplace
  • Negligent Maintenance of roadway crashes, etc.

Foreseeability Matters?

Yes this is key in most cases. So liability could lie if the incident that harmed you was similar to ones that had taken place in the past. But they must be in the proximity of the business or premises. It could be said the owner should have foreseen similar scenarios in future.

Discussed below is another important factor when proving the foreseeability of a crime or even a slippery floor case. It’s called Prior Similar Incidents.

  • What are Prior Similar Incidents or PSI?

The similarity between the incidents that took place in the past and the one that injured the plaintiff is important. PSI or prior similar incidents can show that this would have been avoided if not but for owner negligence.

Similarity Of Cases And Foreseeability

There is quite a debate and controversy in many court cases over PSI. Different state judges are of different opinions.

  • Some judges believe that only natural and similar crimes could allow a business to foresee an upcoming danger. Under this jurisdictional split, business are liable if there was a very similar type of crime, for example. Even if it’s a high crime area, a rape of a female patron next door would not give rise to knowledge criminals would assault a male customer at your business, for example.

So if for example, a past a robbery had taken place in the nearby store, that would not instantly prove security negligence unless there was a similar robbery at your location.

But if it’s not similar enough, you can lose. So in order to prove the foreseeability of the crime it had to be similar in nature. Get it so far?

But this PSI theory is not accepted by all courts.

  • Some courts in California contradict this theory of PSI. These judges say even if the crime is dissimilar, the fact there was high crime at all was enough notice to necessitate security. So some courts have given decisions in the favor victims even when the incidents were not similar.

What is The Stance Of The Plaintiff In Security Negligence Case?

From above information we can easily conclude that any victim who wants to prove that business’ security negligent must come up with ample evidence to show past crime, or PSI. You must show the business knew or should have known about the possibility of the crime at the minimum.

The plaintiff will have to collect information about past cases.  It is always best that the plaintiff collect information about similar cases. But bear in mind some courts think any crimes in the vicinity of the business should have encouraged security measures.

Security Negligence Cases In Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of the most populous regions in the U.S. Crimes are taking place in this area every minute. So if you have been part of an incident and suffered harm or your property got damaged in a business’ premises, you should contact an experienced law firm as soon as possible.

Citations:   The Free Dictionary Foreseeability legal definition of Foreseeability   Foreseeability | Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions

How Do Dram Shop Laws Apply?

Dram shop laws are on the books in 42 states and the District of Columbia. These laws hold the owner of the establishment and servers responsible in some cases. Examples include a drunken patron injuring another person inside or even outside of their establishment.

So in the case of a bar or nightclub, the owners and servers may be held liable. This remains true if they permit a patron to become visibly intoxicated at the establishment. But California uses the foreseeability test, not Dramshop laws.

What are the Wrongful Death Dangers?

When there is an incident at a nightclub or bar that kills a patron, it could be from negligence. If it was, wrongful death claims in California are brought by the spouse, children, grandchildren, domestic partner, other dependents. They can also be claims brought by personal representatives of the decedent.

So now the heirs can be awarded damages in a wrongful death lawsuit based on two things.

  1. The pecuniary loss involves financial support for the victim. This is what the dead person would have provided had they lived. And this will include funeral and burial expenses.
  2. Non-pecuniary damages are the loss of moral support, comfort, companionship, assistance in maintenance. And it can include other damages caused by the death.

What About Punitive Damages?

  • The one damage that heirs will not recover in a wrongful death lawsuit is punitive damages.

What About a Survivor’s Action?

  • If the person who died was hospitalized and had medical expenses, the decedent’s estate may bring a survivor’s lawsuit. This is done on behalf of the deceased victim’s estate.

How Do You Protect the Rights of Patrons?

Above we discussed the various types of cases, statistics and legal theories lawyers use to prove a negligent security case. Now that you understand more about your rights you need to make a decision.

  • Should you consult with a lawyer?
  • We think so.
  • An incident resulting in harm can have life changing consequences. 

Call ELFPI now to learn more at (213) 596-9642.

Difference Between Falling Objects and Slips and Falls in Los Angeles

ELFPI DTLA personal injury law building. Motorcycle accident specialists.
The Los Angeles commercial building where Ehline Law Firm at (213) 596-9642 is located.

Slipping and falling in Los Angeles and falling objects that hit and harm people are among the top two most common injuries to consumers. Here in this article, you will learn the facts and how to deal with a case like this from a legal perspective.

How Do You Prove Fault in the Common Slip and Fall Accident?

Slip and fall accidents are the number the one most common out of the top five most common accidents in Los Angeles. In fact, nationwide they remain a very typical mishap suffered by people on foot, young and aged alike. Of course, only reported numbers are available, so it is assumed many more cases of people falling exist. For example, when someone slips and trips at a party, or stumbles upon a misleveled sidewalk, they don’t always report their mishap. What we do know is California had at least 768,536 reported slip and fall cases. Wow. That’s a lot.

Nationwide, falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits or 12% of total falls. (Source.)

In fact, these events are the single greatest reason for sick days from employment. So how do these accidents arise? Typically, a person walking on foot will get his or her foot stuck on an elevated surface, such as a raised ridge on a sidewalk. But we have all heard the stories or seen the cartoons of people slipping on banana peels. Bottom line, when people are caused to lose their footing, they trip, or slip and fall to the ground.

But there are also other causes such as greasy or wet parking structure floors with poor lighting. If people can’t see that puddle of grease or standing water from a leak, they go down hard. Often, this results in a fractured wrist, ankle, or arm. But head injuries and dislocated shoulders and hips remain common trip, slip and fall injuries.

Proving fault in a slip and fall case is governed by the law of negligence, as discussed above. So unless there is a significant public policy exception such as injuries inherent in sports, or recreation, a potential defendant exists.

Civil Code section 1714(a) provides in part:

“Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.”

So unless the person who fell on the public sidewalk was drunk, or fell for some reason that was their fault, defendants like the city, county or state may exist. Tree roots that cause cracks with ridges greater than 1 inch are not trivial defects, and if you can show notice, you can sue the agency in question. Lack of ordinary care is normally the cause of bad accidents like this. Equally, if you can show constructive or actual notice of a slippery substance that caused your fall at a restaurant or grocery store, you can sue the parent company.

So in this case, the slip and fall lawyer needs to prove that the defendant had a legal duty to use due care; and they breached that legal duty. So long as the violation was the proximate or legal cause of the injury, the case can withstand summary judgment and move to trial. As noted above, failing to correct the dangerous condition triggers a duty to act. So the best thing is to get a slip and fall lawyer to examine the evidence to see if the property owner should have corrected the condition.

As discussed, sidewalks remain a real challenge. But Los Angeles is responsible for fixing, blocking, warning and diverting foot traffic when it knows of dangerous pathways. So they are in a real pickle. In fact, ABC News recently reported that:

The Los Angeles City Council approved Wednesday a $1.4-billion plan to repair a backlog of damaged sidewalks.The program calls for the city to repair 11,000 miles of sidewalks over the next 30 years, at the cost of about $30 million each year. The amount was agreed to as part of a legal settlement with disability advocates.

Incidentally, you can see that disability advocates helped make this possible, as seen in the above video.

Were You or a Loved One Struck and Hurt by a Moving or Falling Object?

Not all slip and fall cases place us at risk for death. But falling objects are the number two cause of injury in Los Angeles. And they are known to cause serious brain injuries and wrongful death. Examples of falling objects include falling overhead luggage on a bus, train or plane. But they can also include a rock slide on Malibu Canyon Road, or PCH near Santa Monica.

Since many of the defendants above remain common carriers with a special duty to travelers, they are particularly at risk for a lawsuit. So the best thing to do is contact a personal injury lawyer who helps with falling object cases as soon as people get medically stabilized.

Proving fault in a falling object case is done using the same formula. Was there a duty to make sure safety standards existed to obviate the reason for the object falling? If so, was a human injured and was that the cause of the injury? Because if it was, you could sue. But get hold of a falling object injury lawyer to learn how.

Boy’s Death on Waterslide Highlights Theme Park Dangers

The case of Caleb Schwab is one of the most tragic in recent memory. The 10-year-old was decapitated in 2016 riding a waterslide in Kansas. The Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City built the world’s tallest waterslide. They also built an engineering nightmare and ignored critical engineering safeguards. The information is laid out in a previously sealed indictment.

As the SF Gate reported, the case sends shockwaves across Kansas and theme parks in general.

The 170-foot ride, known as the Verruckt caused young Caleb’s death and more than another dozen injuries. The Kansas Attorney General’s office is prosecuting the company and one of its former employees. Tyler Austin Miles, the former Director of Operations for the park is charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery, interference with law enforcement, and aggravated endangering a child.

Negligence and Worse

Perhaps most damning is the knowledge that the park officials knew the ride was unsafe. This negligence caused some critical failures leading to Caleb’s death. Even after some injuries, the company left the ride open. The AG’s office also alleges the company hid vital information.

Victims of the park are still open to compensation. In fact, the severe errors also highlight common issues at other theme parks. Many other parks have similar histories. Furthermore, some parks do not correctly account for safety procedures and means of shutting down rides. In short, many of these parks put profit over their consumers.

If you or a family member was injured due to a similar incident, contact Ehline Law immediately. Our firm specializes in similar cases. In fact, the Ehline Law Firm APLC is the top California theme park injury law office. We also represented related injury cases in multiple states. Our advice is free, and we visit anywhere in the state to consult. We are your shield. Let our experience work for your family.

Firemen putting out fire Firemen putting out fire Firemen putting out fire

A Duty for Every Parent

There is no way around it. Fire safety is a key element for people of every age. However, there is a special vulnerability for children due to fire. Blazes kill hundreds of Americans each year, with higher proportions for children.

These fires can strike anywhere– including in the home, at school or work, or on the open road. Each is their own challenge that should come with the right warnings and discussions.

Ehline Law writes this column as a means to keep our children safe from the risks of fire. We use our dozens of years of legal and practical experience for parents everywhere.

Be Cool About Fire Safety

As Rich Evans said, “Be cool about fire safety.” There is little room for error when dealing with potential flame hazards. There are, however, several things that you can do to teach your children the basics of preventing fires and reacting to them.

  • Teach children the basics of the causes of fires. Keep them away from matches and lighters. They should understand the potential risk that each present. Furthermore, they should follow which materials are flammable and a potential hazard.
  • Stop, drop, and roll. This is a constant since your days in school. It’s the same as it was at the time.
  • What to do in a fire. Teach your children many of the basics, including to touch doors to see if they are hot, potential evacuation routes, and to stay close to the ground. Many fire deaths are not due to the fire itself, but rather suffocation.
  • Keep smoke alarms where they are needed. Don’t skimp on the number of smoke alarms around the house, especially around kids’ rooms.
  • Keep accessible fire extinguishers. Keep them in consistent places and teach kids how to use them if ever needed. Hopefully, that day will never come.
  • Are you really in good hands? Are you really in good hands? Are you really in good hands? Are you really in good hands?

    The Hidden Risk of Dry Drowning

    Dry drowning is not on most people’s lexicons. There is a firm image in your head when you consider drowning. Not so much for the risks after a person is pulled out of the water. There is still a substantial risk of severe injury or even death after being removed from a potential drowning situation. Consider the causes and effects of such issues and how you can prevent them.

    This article is brought to you by the Ehline Law Firm out of Los Angeles, CA. Ehline Law is a leading public safety advocate and a major force against drowning deaths.

    Dry Drowning and Traditional Water Risks

    Dry drowning is a bit of nebulous term. Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is the risk of death due to drowning after being removed from the water. Water left in the lungs or organ damage still poses a risk for the patient. Furthermore, this is especially the case for young people.

    Between one and two percent of all drowning deaths are caused by this condition. Dry drowning also affects the body after water enters it through the nose or mouth. This can cause the body to shut down to prevent further water from entering in. These effects and involuntary spasms can last for up to 24 hours.

    If your child shows the symptoms of dry drowning, get them to a doctor immediately. This can include coughing well beyond the initial incident or gasping for air. Some young people throw up or are dizzy. Each one is a potential danger that should be remedied as soon as possible. Don’t make unnecessary risks when such an event happens. Drowning in any form can be a major issue for people of all ages.

    For more info or to find out how to prevent other types of injuries, keep reading our column. We look forward to seeing you here!

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